Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Place For FMJ Bullets In The Hunters Arsenal

I've always been told that Fully Metal Jacket bullets were for target shooting only. Fully Metal Jacket bullets do not expand. They typically penetrate well, but do not expand, leaving a small wound channel. The fear with FMJ bullets is that they can easily zip through your target without hitting any vitals, causing a lost animal and a slow death.

Hunters have a number of bullet choices. The most popular choices are hollow point and soft point. These leave large wound channels and create large exit wounds. There are hundreds of different bullets, each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

V-Max Bullets
On opening day of squirrel season I shot two squirrels with Remington .22 Magnum V-Max bullets. These bullets have a polymer tip for increased accuracy. The description of these bullets on the manufacturers website says that they have "explosive expansion". No kidding. They are great bullets, but a poor choice for anything you may want to eat.  I was quite shocked at the damage the bullets did. One squirrel had an exit wound the size of a half dollar with its lungs hanging out. Needless to say, I had to find a different bullet for squirrel hunting.

My first thought was to use plain old hollow points, but after shooting a few boards I felt that they also expanded too quickly for such a small animal. So, I decided to try FMJ. I have killed multiple small animals with my air rife. The entry and exit holes are not large when I use it, but the squirrels and rabbits die just as quickly. I feel (know) that a 40 grain FMJ bullet out of a .22 Magnum has more killing power than a 14 grain pellet out of an air rifle.

My first hurdle was finding them. Not all manufacturers make these and all of the online retailers that I frequent were sold out of the one or two varieties they carry. I finally got lucky and found two boxes of Winchester FMJ .22 Magnum rounds at my local Bass Pro Shops. I bought both boxes.

I was a little concerned that they would not be as accurate as the V-Tips. In the past V-Tips were all I fed my rifle. I had heard that Remington V-Tips were the best of the best when it comes to .22 Magnum, so I really had no idea how good or bad "regular" ammo would shoot in my gun. I had nothing to be worried about. The FMJ gave me sub-inch groups at 50 yards. The point of impact was considerably different though, so I'm glad I tried them at the range first.

I have been able to kill one squirrel with these FMJ bullets. I can say without reservation that they are not only more than capable for squirrel hunting, they do not waste meat. I shot the squirrel in the exact same spot as my first squirrel. The exit wound was no bigger than a .22 bullet. Absolutely no wasted meat and the squirrel died instantly.

I am in the middle of tanning the hide. This is the exit wound.
I wouldn't use this bullet on anything bigger than a cat, but for small, edible animals they are perfect and have earned a place in my ammo stash!

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